Let me preface this by saying I've never operated a cash register and I've never worked in the food service industry a day in my life. But that didn't stop the fine folks at SakaMai (157 Ludlow Street, NYC) from opening up their Pour Bar for me to host their first Shochu Tuesday Happy Hour last night, April 30th from 6-8pm.
One of the many challenges of introducing Americans to shochu is in getting them to understand what it is and how to enjoy it. Kitaya Shuzo, in cooperation with Club Macanudo, Cohiba Cigars, and the Robb Report, attempted to help with an event on Manhattan's Upper East Side on Monday, August 27th.
Kitaya Shuzo is a nihonshu (sake) and shochu producer in Fukuoka Prefecture and the first stop on our shochu distillery tour. Seikai Ishizuka and I traveled nearly an hour south of Hakata (main station in Fukouka City) on a commuter train to reach Yame, a city of less than 40,000 people in southern Fukuoka Prefecture. There we were met by a Kitaya representative who drove us to the distillery.
I've decided to take a pilgrimage. This isn't easy for me since I don't speak much Japanese outside of restaurants and my “real” career is busier than ever, but I booked a trip to Japan this summer. In fact, I'm on Japan Airlines (JAL) flight #5 from JFK to Tokyo Narita as I write this. Planning this trip has been so daunting, I've only been able to tweet about it. I realized on my way to the airport that many of my friends didn't even realize I was going. A text from our graphic designer read, “Hey man, plans today?” I replied, “Heading to Japan.” He replied, “Hot damn. When you back?”